Cricket: Spencer's fireworks

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The Independent Online
Kent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .248-8

Surrey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .194

Kent win by 54 runs

ALL THE fireworks seemed to have gone off in a great shower of sparks the previous week as Kent rocketed to a Sunday best of 327 here while Surrey's whizz-bangs chased 314 at The Oval and got them. Accordingly, expectations were running high for yesterday's top-of-the-table clash at the St Lawrence Ground, though come five o'clock and it was looking more like a damp squib of a contest.

When the ball was tossed to Duncan Spencer, the crowd exploded. Initially, they were not quite sure whether to laugh or cry, but by the end of an extraordinary over Surrey were left shaking their heads and surveying the wreckage. Kent probably could not believe their luck.

It was only Spencer's 13th over in the League and it began very short and shakily. A no-ball was followed by a wide and Monte Lynch then hit a six and ran two. Lynch next holed out to Matthew Fleming at midwicket and after another no-ball, a dot and a single the Kent seamer flattened David Ward's off stump.

Surely this was Frank Spencer we were watching, the nine-ball over having cost 14 runs but Surrey suckered out of two wickets. When Andy Smith was then run out by Dean Headley's smart thinking in the follow-through, three had gone down for 11 runs in three overs and the visitors were 70 for 5.

The match then really burst into life, Surrey coming to their senses thanks to a face-saving stand of 110 in 22 overs between their new boys - Adam Hollioake, Australian-born but English-qualified, and the former Kent player, Graham Kersey. Kersey made 49 and by the time Hollioake was out leg-before to Headley for a 63- ball half-century containing two sixes and three fours, Surrey were only 58 short of their objective with a shade more than five overs to go. When it came to the crunch, the target was beyond them, especially when Spencer made 30 yards to cling on to a skyer from Waqar Younis at long-on.

So Kent continue to top the table and for that, Spencer apart, they have to thank Carl Hooper who earlier made 51 and featured in a 90-run partnership with Trevor Ward, and the hard-hitting Mark Ealham, whose 32 contained three sixes.

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